THE LAVENDER STORY
Why Lavender? Because it’s health benefits include its ability to reduce stress, improve mood, promote restful sleep, relieve skin irritation, prevent infections and reduce inflammation. As if that’s not enough, it’s gorgeous in full bloom, dries impeccably and buds placed in a dish can emit aroma for ages. As a culinary element it is used to season a wide variety of dishes as well as being tasty in salad dressings, sauces, teas & beverages… and ice cream. Honey Lavender ice cream is not to be missed!
So Many Benefits.
Nearly forty plants within the mint family are technically classified as lavender, although the most common form is Lavandula Angustifolia on which the color “lavender” is based. This genus is found in Europe, Africa, the Mediterranean, parts of Asia, and is now cultivated in North America. The reason that it is so widely used is its massive range of applications; from food and fragrance to cosmetics and herbal medicines, this plant is full of essential oils that can have powerful effects on the human body. It's also one of the most unique and beloved scents in the world.
Health Benefits of Lavender
The scent and flavor are wonderful, but the big bonus of lavender comes from its wide range of health benefits; read on to find out more.
Reduces Anxiety & Stress
The most popular use of lavender is for relaxation, as these potent essential oils are well known for soothing anxiety and stress. The natural organic compounds in the leaves and flowers of lavender can be ground between the fingers and then rubbed onto the temples or rub a couple of drops of essential oil between your fingertips and pat this on the temples as well. This topical application can soothe the body and mind by relieving anxious thoughts and balancing the mood.
Lavender essential oil is widely used by people who suffer from chronic stress and anxiety, as well as people who struggle with sleep disorders. Many essential oils, when inhaled, can trigger the release of key hormones and neurotransmitters (such as serotonin and dopamine) and lower the amount of stress hormones present in the body. This can help relieve chronic disease and oxidative stress in inflamed tissues, improve mood, lower the frequency of depressive episodes, and generally relieve worry and strain. Apart from this topical application of the flowers themselves, you can also brew lavender tea and achieve much the same effect. The antioxidant components of lavender can impact the endocrine system to lower the levels of stress hormones in the body.
Treats Sleep Issues
For those who struggle with insomnia, apnea or restless sleep patterns, you know how it can negatively impact your life. By using either lavender tea or steeping a few lavender flowers in hot water, you'll have a wonderful drink that has been used to induce sleep and relaxation for thousands of years. This is closely linked to the flower’s impact on the nervous system (mentioned above), and can also help to clear your mind of negative thoughts. It's very effective when combined with meditation techniques and breathing in the essential oil in the form of aromatherapy using a diffuser or very simply rubbing a few drops in your palms, placing your palms over your nose and taking three slow, deep breaths. It doesn't get much easier than that!
By adding flowers to your bathwater and taking a nice long soak, the anti-inflammatory components of lavender can help in reducing inflammation. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of lavender are well-documented and quite potent. It's one of the most trusted applications of this flower.
An easy, mobile way to take care of your skin is to use lavender hydrosol mist. When your skin is feeling dry or irritated, simply spray on some of the essential oil infused water and enjoy the quick relief that it provides.
Applying essential oils to the skin, both in medicinal and cosmetic applications, has been popular for thousands of years. The antioxidants present in many essential oils can help counter premature aging, promote the growth of new cells, minimize the appearance of lines and wrinkles, lighten age spots, clear blemishes, and increase skin elasticity to make you look and feel younger.
Antiviral & Antibacterial Effects
Although many people trust lavender for its relaxation and aromatherapeutic applications, its effect on infection is also impressive. Many people apply crushed leaves on wounds and injuries to not only promote quick healing but also to prevent infection.
Essential oil diffusers can fill the air with micro-particles that will cleanse the skin and can help relieve symptoms of eczema, psoriasis, acne and other skin conditions. Internally the antibacterial and antiviral effects of these oils can boost your immune system, ease respiratory infections and even help to re-balance the microflora of your gut to improve digestion.
Ease Digestive Issues
The polyphenols found in lavender have a wide range of effects on the body. It can prevent the development of harmful bacteria and accumulation of gas in the gut which can ease stomach discomfort, reduce bloating, and eliminate cramping. Chewing on lavender leaves or drinking its tea can be effective as well.
Word of Caution: Although, not commonly considered an allergenic substance, if you are susceptible to allergens in the mint family, you could experience negative side effects from lavender as well. These are usually mild in nature but always test first in a small dosage if ingesting or skin patch if using topically.
Essential Oil Basics
Essential oils have become hugely popular in recent decades, although they have been in use for thousands of years in traditional medicine practices. These concentrated extracts from various plants, flowers and herbs have potent active compounds, giving them a wide range of uses from home and self-care products to cosmetic and medicinal applications.
An essential oil is the pure, concentrated liquid essence of a plant commonly derived through steam or water distillation. Essential oils can come from the seeds, stem, bark, roots, flowers or the leaves of plants. There are hundreds of essential oils in common use worldwide; a marvelous variety of engaging smells and uses depending on geographic location and the plants that naturally grow there.
Essential oils are commonly clear in color, although some are yellow or amber. They possess high levels of key nutrients, antioxidants, organic acids and other beneficial compounds.
Essential oils are typically inhaled, either through aromatherapy as with an essential oil diffuser or they can be topically applied to the skin or hair. Some essential oils can be consumed when diluted, but this is relatively uncommon due to their high chemical concentrations.
Unlike perfume and fragrance oils, essential oils are pure derivatives of plants and do not contain artificial chemicals or additives. Many essential oils perform better topically when combined with carrier oils that readily absorb into the skin. Carrier oils can also help to dilute potent essential oils. Always understand the properties of the oil you're considering as improper use may result in negative side effects.
The uses and benefits of essential oil depend entirely on what type of oil you're using, the amount and the potency. However, benefits typically include antibacterial, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, relaxant, sedative, detoxifying, moisturizing, insect repellent, air-freshening or cognition-boosting qualities.
Most oils vary greatly in terms of quality and price due to the availability and rarity of the plants from which they are derived.